Sound Words graphicFundamentalism’s consistent exhortation to be distinct from the world is a legacy which we should applaud and continue. However, we must make certain that our definition of worldliness is consistent with Scripture’s. Consider, for example, James 4:4, where we are told that “friendship with the world is enmity with God.” On that basis, many have preached against worldly entertainment, worldly dress, and other external manifestations of worldliness, and rightfully so. However, the context of the passage indicates that worldliness is primarily revealed through internals: combativeness, ambition, selfish desires and the like (vv. 1–3).

Thus, worldliness is having the same desires, goals, and values as the lost. So the Christian who sits at his desk wearing modest apparel and listening to hymns but whose thoughts, disposition, and career ambitions mirror those of the unsaved co-worker in the next cubicle is worldly. Let’s continue to battle external evidences of worldliness, but let’s especially go after the root: “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (I John 2:16).

July/August 2006


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